APC Moves to Build Grand Coalition of Former, Serving Governors, PDP Cries Foul
Reports reaching Abusidiqu.com indicates that the party is moving to woo former and serving state governors ahead of the 2015 election.
The party is said to be talking to all the governors from 1999, when one of the national leaders, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was governor, to date in a bid to persuade them to join the coalition.
Those being invited include former governors Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom), Lucky Igbinedion (Edo), and Donald Duke (Cross River).
Former governors Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), George Akume (Benue), Abubakar Audu (Kogi) and Ahmed Sani Yerima (Zamfara) among others, are already in APC.
One of the old governors, who confirmed the move by APC, said even though he had not joined, he had been invited by the party and was giving it a thought.
Another former governor said they had been there in PDP all along but the party did not recognise them.
APC has written the governors formally to invite them to the party.
It was gathered that the attempt to bring the new and old governors on board was the reason APC had not commenced its membership registration.
Leaders of the party want to conclude the planned alignments before the membership registration so that all the new entrants, including the seven PDP governors – G7 – in the breakaway faction of the party led by Abubakar Baraje, would be equal joinders and founders.
Meanwhile, in continuation of its effort to court the G7 governors, APC leaders will tomorrow visit Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to formally request the governor, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, to join the party.
But the Presidency and PDP at the weekend protested the APC persuasion drive, which was set in train last week with visits to some of the G7 governors by General Mahammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and APC interim national chairman Bisi Akande, and other APC leaders. They alleged that the move by APC was tantamount to a commencement of electioneering for the 2015 general elections outside the legal timeframe set in the Electoral Act.
Political Adviser to the President Ahmed Gulak and Deputy National Publicity Secretary of PDP Abdullahi Jalo, who raised the concerns, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to sanction APC for breaking the rule on the timing of election campaigns.
This was, however, as hints emerged from the National Assembly that the 57 members of the House of Representatives, who had identified with the Baraje-led New PDP, might have concluded plans to defect to APC any moment. THISDAY learnt that as a prelude to the imminent defection, the Progressive Governors’ Forum, which consists of governors of the 10 APC states, would be organising a special dinner this week to interact with the intending converts to the opposition coalition.
To make room for the G7 governors and other New PDP supporters, APC has expressed a willingness to review its constitution, which currently provides for a 35-member interim management committee, with each of the three major parties in the coalition – Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progress Change, and All Nigeria Peoples Party – as well as the factions from All Progressives Grand Alliance and Democratic Peoples Party contributing a specified number of officers.
A top APC member told THISDAY yesterday in Abuja that the party’s delegation would continue its consultations with a visit to Amaechi on Monday, after which the team would visit Minna, the Niger State capital, for a similar discussion with Governor Babangida Aliyu. He said the APC leaders planned to round off their tour with another trip to Sokoto to concretise issues with the state governor, Aliyu Wamako.
Besides Amaechi, Aliyu, and Wamakko, the other four governors in the G7 are Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako, Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, and Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso.
The APC team had in the last one week visited Kwankwaso, Lamido, Wamakko, and Nyako.
“We have carried the battle straight to the PDP National Chairman’s home state in Adamawa and we are following it up with a visit to Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Port Harcourt on Monday,” the APC source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue.
He dismissed as insincere an alleged last minute effort by the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan’s men to reach out to Amaechi.
According to him, “If Amaechi had been the governor of Bayelsa, the president’s home state, we will still have gone there to woo him. Being from the president’s region is absolutely irrelevant. What is important is that Amaechi has consistently cried out that he was being suffocated by the Presidency.
“If anybody is even more aggrieved, I think it is Governor Amaechi and we are very hopeful that he will listen to our sympathetic request for him to come over and join our party. Governor Amaechi is a very intelligent and resourceful man. I think he can take a decision and know which option is in his own best interest.”
On why APC elected to meet with the G7 governors individually, the source said it was a mark of respect for the governors and an opportunity to meet them with their supporters.
He said the APC team had been warmly received in all the states they had visited, saying the merger party hopes to concretise its deal with the intending entrants from PDP before the commencement of APC’s membership registration exercise so that the new members could partake in the exercise.
But Gulak said in an interview with THISDAY, “What the APC is doing by going to our governors in Jigawa, Kano and Adamawa states is nothing but the commencement of campaigns, which is certainly against the letters of the Electoral Act.
“We are not restricting movement of political parties, but it is wrong for the APC to be going from state to state, trying to poach our governors. This is campaigns, if it is not campaigns, then tell me what it is? The Electoral Act is clear on when the campaigns are expected to commence. What the APC is doing is simply overheating the system ahead of the commencement of campaigns.
“We expect INEC to call them to order and as well sanction them because of other political parties that may be emulating them. The campaigns for the 2015 general elections have not started and one of the political parties is jumping the gun.”
In the same vein, Jalo said, “If it is the president or the PDP that is doing what the APC is doing, Nigerians and the media would be complaining. INEC has not authorised the commencement of campaigns, but look at what the APC is doing.
“INEC, going by the Electoral Act, is the only body that would authorise the beginning of campaigns for the 2015 general elections. INEC has not given the green light for campaigns and the APC is jumping the gun. It is not that the PDP is afraid to kick off its campaign, but as the ruling party, we stand by the law and, therefore, would not do anything that would breach the law or overheat the polity, as APC is doing.
“INEC is the electoral umpire and, therefore, Nigerians are watching what it will do. PDP is by this calling on INEC to call the APC to order.”
The PDP spokesman accused APC of lacking originality in terms of ideology, saying, “If the APC is as good as it claims, why don’t they produce their own champions (instead of poaching) by trying to take already made champions. They are like a bird that cannot produce its own egg, but would claim eggs belonging to other birds.”
He said PDP was not keen on taking the dissenting governors before the party’s disciplinary committee headed by Umaru Dikko to avoid aiding their alleged plot to create crisis in PDP. “They are merely grandstanding because they know that there is no crisis within the PDP. At least the courts and INEC have said that,” Jalo said.
Meanwhile, THISDAY learnt at the weekend that a dinner which APC planned to hold in Abuja for the G57 lawmakers was designed to help the opposition party harvest from the fracture in the ruling PDP to solidify the opposition structure in the National Assembly.
APC also intends to use the occasion to shore up support for Dr. Chris Ngige, the APC candidate in the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
Kwankwaso, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State are expected to give talks at the dinner, which is expected to be attended by Aliyu, Wamako, Nyako, and Amaechi.
A source close to the PGF disclosed that all the 57 House members had received their invitation cards for the “special dinner.” It could not be confirmed if the 22 senators, who had also in September declared support for the Baraje faction, would be at the event.
Some of Tinubu’s governor colleagues in 1999 being wooed by APC
Orji Uzor Kalu (PDP),
Boni Haruna (PDP),
Victor Attah (PDP),
Chinwoke Mbadinuju (PDP),
Adamu Mu’azu (PDP),
Donald Duke (PDP),
Sam Egwu (PDP),
Lucky Igbinedion (PDP),
Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP),
Achike Udenwa (PDP),
Ibrahim Saminu Turaki (APP)
Ahmed Makarfi (PDP),
Adamu Aliero (APP),
Abubakar Audu (APP),
Abdulkadir Kure (PDP),
Joshua Dariye (PDP),
Jolly Nyame (PDP),
Bukar Ibrahim (APP)
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